When we work for other people, we have no choice but to play by their rules. Because of money, we are forced into a reality that for many millions of people can be extremely difficult, not only because of the work we do, but because we are dependent on the integrity of the people who we are forced to associate with and who hold your financial and professional fate in their hands.
When a person is harassed in the workplace, all of the commonplace problems that come along for the ride when we work for any company, mutate into a power struggle. The person who is harassed has a choice of putting up with the abuse to hold onto the job or risk losing that job by fighting back and reporting the abuse. This is a conflict that can cause huge amounts of stress and even health problems, proportional to the amount money and professional prestige involved. The worst examples of this are with the professions of acting and journalism, when the money is much greater than any normal job, and the loss of a very high paying job along with the fame, can cause a conflict that is impossible to manage or rationalize.
The new movie “Bombshell” is the first of many movies that will be coming out about the “Me Too” movement that all started in 2016 with Fox News, and Gretchen Carlson suing Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. This was followed by over 20 other women who worked at Fox news including Meghan Kelly, accusing Ailes of sexual harassment. Eventually Ailes was fired from Fox after decades of using his leverage and power in the industry to sexually harass women. We all ask why someone like Roger Ailes was able to harass and terrorize his employees for so long, but this is easy to understand. If you report him, as a high paid and in some cases famous television journalist, you might lose your job and most likely, might never work in the industry again. If you refuse Ailes’ advances, he might get angry and demote you or find some way to discredit or fire you. If you report him, you run the risk that nobody will believe you and then you will be shunned by your co-workers. Management might decide that there is an impasse between two people, and if one of them has less leverage, that person will lose their job. This is what happened when Ann Curry reported Matt Lauer to management in 2012, losing her anchor job on the Today show. Underlying all of this is someone like Roger Ailes, who could have cared less about the stress and misery he put so many women through. Unfortunately there are too many people like Ailes in this world, who rise to positions of power and ruin the lives and careers of others who are just trying to make a living.
The Me Too movement only became a movement in this country, because the number of people coming forward eventually became greater then those who had leverage over them. This is also true of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and many others. Some years ago, there was a cover of Time Magazine with 60 of the women accusing Bill Cosby of drugging and violating them. Bill Cosby is now in jail. Many others formerly in power, including Bill O’Reilly, who also worked at Fox News, have lost their jobs and will never rise to their former levels ever again.
I thought that the movie Bombshell did a very good job of showing the working environment at Fox News, with the cubicles, confusion, stress and meetings with Roger Ailes that included blatant sexual harassment. The makeup for Charlize Theron who portrayed journalist Meghan Kelly was so perfect that she looked almost exactly like Kelly. The acting in this movie was also very impressive including John Lithgow, who was outstanding as Roger Ailes, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Margo Robbie as Kayla Pospisil, Allison Janney as Aile’s lawyer and Kate McKinnon as Jess Carr.
I am surprised at the anemic 65% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, as my rating is more in the 80% range as this film does a very good job of showing the high stress reality of life in the spotlight and living with blatant sexual harassment. I definitely recommend Bombshell.